Washingtonians are making a bold statement with homes in dazzling hues.
Gold and acrylic curtain rods and a gold chandelier add glamour and sparkle to this aqua dining room.
Color is the new black when it comes to home décor, and the bolder and brighter the better. Color sets a mood—whether it’s fery red lacquered cabinetry in a kitchen or calming lavender grass-cloth wall coverings in a bedroom—and brings a room to life.
“Classic colors, like blue and green, are always popular,” says DC-based interior designer Anna Matthews (704-488-7537), whose work encompasses fresh, vibrant fnishes and furnishings. “But their timelessness can be refreshed by playing with tones, layering textures, and paying attention to the details that pull a space together.” For example, the dining room in an Alexandria, Virginia, home that Matthews designed sports a pale shade of aqua on the painted walls and a deeper one in the silk curtains.
Pale-blue walls borrow from the outdoors and contrast nicely with the chartreuse-yellow custom banquette.
“I also love mixing colors that at frst glance don’t appear to go together,” she adds. “The secret is making sure the colors relate to each other with respect to tone and distribution.” Thus, a vivid grass-green wood-paneled sitting room in the same house has soft powder-blue pillows on a muted olive-green sofa, as well as turquoise grosgrain trim added to batik-printed Roman blinds.
Interior designer Barbara Hawthorn (1950 Valley Wood Road, McLean, 703-241-5588) approaches color from an academic background, having studied fne art and art history, as well as political science, at Vassar.
With her keen eye for art, Hawthorn rejects the traditional practice of using art alone to color a space: “Contrary to what most people do with art—put it on white walls and surround it with neutral furniture—I select colors from the art for both paint and furnishings to highlight it better.”
Fauvist colors on these walls, including purple, yellow, and hot pink, continue the palette found in the art.
A Bethesda home she decorated is the perfect example. To highlight “an incredible collection of art”—including paintings by Andy Warhol, Robert Indiana, and Roy Lichtenstein— Hawthorn outftted the home in bold color. In the entry hall, she embraced the palette of a spectacular Wolf Kahn landscape by painting the wall on which it hangs hot pink. For visual relief, she kept the ceiling and moldings white.
“I see a true awakening of color,” she says. “When used in the right way, color can even read as neutral: A solid-painted wall in a bright hue that takes its color from art becomes neutral by default.” In addition, Hawthorn emphasizes good lighting when working with color. She prefers dimmers that can be used to soften hues or make them pop, as needed.
Bethesda-based interior designer Camille Saum (4949 St. Elmo Ave., Bethesda, 301-657-9817) is drawn to the intersection of color and personality. “Color refects a person,” she says. “That’s one of my goals in design.” Nowhere is this more apparent than in her own warm, zesty, citrus-infused home in Washington, DC. “Color comes from my heart and soul. I was born with it, and it’s excited me forever.”
A leopard-print ottoman and brown leather chairs, plus a neutral rug, balance the vibrantly hued wood paneling.
Saum weaves color and texture throughout her space. Her chartreuse-yellow dining banquette in faux leather absorbs light, while the chair seats in a patent fnish of the same hue refect it. The chair backs are upholstered in a woven foral incorporating that tone as well.
On which shades to use, Saum says, “Every color looks different in someone else’s space. It’s like wearing red lipstick: Certain reds are better on one person and others are better on another.” She pauses before adding, “I simply can’t imagine a home without color.” These days, apparently, nobody can.